New Delhi: India’s 70th Republic Day is special for more than one reason – one of them being, militant turned solider Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani received India’s highest peace time gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra, posthumously.

Nazir not only set an example by shunning militancy and joining the forces but inspired the entire nation by leading from the front. He played a crucial role in the elimination of many terrorists operating in South Kashmir. On the other hand, Hizbul commander, Burhan Wani who was gunned down in 2016, incited violence in the valley and still continues to play catalytic role in the fresh recruit.

Like several youths in the valley, the slain 38-year-old soldier Nazir Wani who was once a militant, was misguided and took up arms to fight against the security forces. But soon he realised he was on the wrong side and in 2004, he surrendered with his weapon and was recruited in the 162nd battalion of the Territorial Army - Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry.

A true patriot, Nazir Wani became a hero for the entire nation and was conferred with the Sena Medal for gallantry twice - in 2007 and 2018. The 2018 Sena Medal was awarded to him for eliminating a terrorist from a very close range.

While militant Burhan Wani became influential after his death, his popularity has risen exponentially among radicalised youths. He continues to pollute young mind as his videos and pictures are marketed among teens to join terror outfits. Burhan Wani himself was a minor at the time of joining the ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen. Youths considered him as his hero and picked up guns, stones and grenade by joining extreme groups and creating unrest. The militant groups used the juveniles as propaganda tools and to recruit more young boys into their ranks.

Nazir too was a perfect example of how young minds in Kashmir are being radicalised by terror outfits members to fight against the forces but years later, he chose to serve the country rather than terrorising it. Nazir also helped the security agencies in cracking the web of recruitment in Kashmir. Kulgam born Nazir had an eagle’s eye for gathering intelligence for operations. He led from the front and played a crucial role in the elimination of many terrorists operating in South Kashmir. His brothers-in-arms had tremendous faith in the intelligence gathered by him.

On November 25 last year, Lance Naik Wani was participating in an operation against six terrorists in Hirapur village near Batgund in the Kashmir Valley.

The information was about a mixed group of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists taking shelter in a house.

Amid the intense gun battle, Wani managed to eliminate the district commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and a foreign terrorist. He was then hit by several bullets, including some that pierced his head. He also managed to injure another terrorist before succumbing to his injuries.

Today, as President Ram Nath Kovind presented the prestigious Ashok Chakra to Wani's wife Mahajabeen, he will forever motivate and inspire the generations to work selflessly for the safety and security of the country.